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How the fossil fuel industry has screwed energy consumers

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As we absorb the hysterical claims – in the ABC, Fairfax, the Murdoch media and commercial TV – about the prospect of imminent power shortages, let’s just cast our eyes back just two and a half years when the fossil fuel industry was predicting …. wait for it …. an unprecedented supply glut.

According to the Australian Energy Market Operator at the time, there would be no need for any new generation for up to 10 years in south-eastern Australia, because of what was then described as that “unprecedented glut”.

“What we’re saying is that is that there’s an oversupply of generation capacity at present,” an AEMO spokesman, Joe Adamo, told the ABC at the time. And you can see that from those forecasts there.aemo forecasts national

The fossil fuel industry and big business seized on those forecasts to argue forcefully that the renewable energy target should be heavily cut, if not scrapped.

The Abbott government needed no encouragement, and despite being foiled by the Senate in its attempts to kill it entirely, it did succeed in cutting the RET, and sparking an investment drought that lasted from 2013 until the end of last year.

As Alan Pears and David Leitch each wrote in separate pieces on Thursday, Australian consumers and businesses are now paying the price for that act of policy vandalism, and the huge delays in investment in renewable energy that occurred thanks to the Abbott government.

Leitch puts the extra cost – in terms of wholesale electricity prices – at more than $11 billion. And soon enough, that will filter through to retail costs, already surging out of control according to a recent study by the Grattan Institute (and many others).

(Although in delightful irony, the former head of Hazelwood, Tony Concannon, noted this week that the Coalition’s canning of the carbon price and its slashing of the RET also killed any chance of investment in new coal plants, because no investor would every trust a government again on climate policies).

Fast forward to now, and even though there has been no increase in demand, the fossil fuel industry is revelling in unprecedented profits, as spot and future price soar across the nation – particularly in the coal states.

Because of the lack of competition that could have been introduced if the RET policy was held steady,  the incumbent generators can now use their market power to artificially inflate prices, and somehow convince mainstream media and conservative politicians that it is all the fault of wind and solar.

“It looks like the generators succeeded, as expected, in delaying investment until they could enjoy a price bonanza as they withdraw faster than replacement can get underway now,” says one senior executive, who declined to be named.

Spark Infrastructure, which runs two of the three networks in Victoria, and the only network in South Australia, was not so shy, writing in its submission to the Finkel Review that fossil fuel generators were deliberately dealing in “scarcity” to push up prices.

They did this, it said, by deliberately withdrawing capacity at critical times.

Now, absurdly, ex-prime minister Abbott has come out to call for government subsidies to ensure that the Hazelwood power station does not shut next week as planned, but stays open.

Equally absurdly, this call was repeated by, of all people, Innes Willox, the head of the business lobby group Australian Industry Group, who on the ABC repeated the nonsense written on the front page of The Age on Thursday, which claimed – erroneously – that the market operator is now forecasting 10 weeks of energy supply shortages over the next two summers.

We explained here why that was rubbish. But we do understand why Willox – in his more moderate remarks circulated to the media a day earlier – no longer has faith in the markets. He described the possibility of generators doing the right thing and delivering supply as a “big if”.

It’s not because they can’t, but because they might not choose to. They might, as South Australia premier Jay Weatherill described it, choose to put “profits before people” and not deliver the needed supply at all.electricity prices

And the fossil fuel generators are still piling in. A number of them – such as ERM – are calling for “capacity payments”, effectively another sort of subsidy payment to ensure that they do not close.

Having, as Spark pointed out, artificially pushed up prices by making capacity scarce, they are now threatening to withdraw capacity unless the regulators authorise a new payment. It is extraordinary.

The South Australian government, to its credit, has decided to try and tackle this nonsense by introducing an “energy supply target”, which seems deliberately calibrated to ensure that the fossil fuel industry does not shut down more capacity, and create more scarcity.

The Weatherill government is still reeling from the decision by the Pelican Point not to switch on its second unit and watch while its own customers, and tens of thousands of others, were blacked out. Weatherill is building an emergency back-up to ensure that such “market failures” are not repeated.

In many ways, the fossil fuel industry is replicating the artificial shortage it has created in the gas market, and then demanded special dispensations – in the form of access to CSG fields and subsidies – to guarantee supply.

This market rorting, however, does not just apply just to the supply of gas and electricity, but also to “grid services”, the supply of frequency and ancillary benefits, of the FCAS market – as the AER outlined in great detail in its report here:

“The incumbent generators have not just succeeded in delaying the construction of wind and solar farms for as long as they can …. and fighting energy efficiency initiatives …. they have also convinced regulators to make it as difficult as possible for new technologies such as battery storage and demand management to enter the industry.”

One proposal seen as critical to this transition is the so-called 30-minute rule, which means that while market bids are made every 5 minutes, the settlement is made every 30 minutes on an average of the six five minute bids in that period.

Everyone, including AEMO, admits this results in distortions, and that means higher prices and not lower prices. It favours slow and clunky gas fired generators.

The pattern is clear, Sun Metals and the Melbourne Energy Institute and others have pointed out – capacity suddenly becomes scarce in the first five minute period, prices shoot up, and having guaranteed a windfall gain for the 30 minute period, capacity suddenly becomes “available” again and swamps the market.

Switching to a 5 minute settlement would allow fast response battery storage to respond in 5 minute periods. But the fossil fuel industry doesn’t want a bar of it, and has threatened, once again, to withdraw capacity if it goes ahead.

Who’s going to stop them? Not the regulators – they don’t seem interested. The competition czar, Rod Simms, thinks it is all a wonderful example of a market at work.

And not the rule makers either, at least not any time soon. The Australian Energy Market Commission is still pondering its already twice delayed review of the 30 minute rule, and on Thursday it called for submissions for the design of a new FCAS market.

But the way it did so was quite extraordinary.

It was written, noted one battery storage proponent, “from a presumption that traditional synchronous generation is the path to stability … it allows the possibility that batteries and other non-synchronous generation might be able to do the job, but almost as an after-thought.”

There is a belief in the renewables industry that too many within the energy bureaucracy simply don’t understand what is happening around them. The apparent weak settings on incumbent generators, highlighted by several new reports, including this one, is a case in point.

One hope is that the Finkel Review will be able to cut through. Finkel, in his draft report, understood that the technologies to address the issues created by the transition to a decarbonised grid are there, but the rules that would allow that to happen – and relax the stranglehold of the fossil fuel incumbents – are not there.

This was the point underpinned not just by Spark Infrastructure, but the entire network industry. They fear that their future is put at risk by the untrammelled gamesmanship of the fossil fuel industry.

They point out that if the vested interests are not swept aside, and the rules are not changed, then consumers will simply take matters into their now hands and look after their own technology needs.

They now have the technologies to do that, and with every passing month, the cost of such action falls further beneath the soaring cost of the archaic market designed for another century.  

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  • Chris Fraser

    There are strange motivations and political bedfellows. I’m sure I heard Tony Abbot this morning going in to bat for a non-polluting energy source in Snowy 2.0. It’s not new renewable energy investment, because it needs energy from somewhere else to help with storage creation via pumping, for use later with some losses at peak times.According to the article Abbott’s wish to keep Hazelwood open until Snowy 2.0 is running would not be justified. And keeping Hazelwood open to run Snowy 2.0 would never be justified.

    • Gailmsimpson

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  • Hermann

    The Germans seem to be learning their lessons. They face similar problems with power prices through the roof ever since they instigated their “Energiewende” policy and got carried away with windmills. They’re busy building new coal fired power stations! When will we here face reality? Are we about to fix one failure with an even worse one? The whole situation is a disgrace for such an energy rich country like Australia!

    By all means develop alternative energy sources and I am all in favor of it, but what’s happening in SA is a complete failure and it is time we rid ourselves of our ideologically based follies and get the grid working again, just as in the good old days.

    Incidentally we here in WA have a very stable grid though we are not interconnected with the East at all. No prices for guessing the reasons…
    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601514/germany-runs-up-against-the-limits-of-renewables/

    • trackdaze

      Interesting seeing all the growth in german generation mix is gas and renewables.

      Absolute Rubbish on SA being a complete failure. Its closer to success than any of the other states.

      • Hermann
        • trackdaze

          Coal powered generation down in 2016 by 1%. 12% since that coal plant began construction.

          • Hermann

            1%. And what is the figure in SA since the windmill madness began?

          • trackdaze

            Coal? Down to about 30% of total consumption. Roughly what it is in germany and in the United states.

            The difference is they dont tolerate monopolistic and enept behaviour from networks and generators

          • Hermann

            Their energy generation and distribution has always been in private hands, so their government never needed to flog of the utilities and create monopolies in the process to achieve maximum benefit from the sales! And that is exactly what has gone wrong here in Australia! And we, the consumers, are now paying the price.

          • trackdaze

            Well there is only one thing to do.

            Produce, store and use your own. Its clean, cheap and reliable.

          • Hermann

            Well, if I lived on a property somewhere in the bush away from any larger city I’d plaster the roof of my house with solar panels and get battery storage. Heating and cooking would be with a good old wood stove or maybe gas if it was available. Aircon would not even be considered, maybe good old ceiling fans. Laundry would be one of the lesser problems in a warm climate… I still would invest in a petrol or diesel generator though. Compared with the enormous costs of connecting to the grid these options would be most viable.

            But let’s face it, that lifestyle is not suitable for everyone and most of us live in or near big cities and attain to 9 to 5 jobs or a variation of it, therefore power reliability and affordability is paramount in the society we live in. One of my worst nightmares would be being stuck in a dark lift between the 15th and 16th floor in an office building 10 minutes after hours with no Internet and a flat mobile phone battery…

            I do have solar panels but just cannot justify the costs of storage battery, especially since the network where I live is quite stable. I keep a small petrol generator ready instead, green or not but most reliable and cost effective.

            It is just a matter of choosing the right tools for the job at hand.

          • humanitarian solar

            That’s a silly setup Hermann. The problem with a grid-tie inverter is if the grid goes down, you can’t even use the power from the solar panels. That’s why it is necessary to get even a small battery and a modern inverter. I’ve had 5 or 6 outages in the last 6 months, about 3 planned daytime ones, 1 from wind damage and one from lightning. I can say the battery fills in the morning as usual and then does’t move from 100% for the rest of the day. The battery rarely gets used during the day because the solar supplies almost all the load directly from solar panels to the power posts on the DC side of the inverter. e.g. a kettle is 1200W and if you have above 1200W on the roof it will will drive the kettle directly. If you switch on more appliances at once, only then will the battery have to hand over some electrons and have it paid back from the sun in the next few minutes. Ditto fans can be run all day and never budge the battery from 100%. With cooking, modernity has produced the induction cooktop and it’s as fast as gas although easier to clean pots because the heat transference is more evenly distributed.

          • Hermann

            I have solar panels myself, 4kW but they had to be mounted on either side of the roof, facing east and west, so I got 3.2kW max in summer and just above 2kW in winter on sunny days. I can monitor that on my computer and view the bell shaped graphs during the day. Observing a 12 month period, e.g. 2016, the yield is about 800kW per month in Dec and January, then down to less than 300kW in June!

            Now, on a cloudy day the yield can drop to 20% or less, especially in winter! I have no idea how solar would work in a rainy climate such as northern Europe. Perth has a sunny climate and solar does make sense here.

            I too would definitely have solar panel with a battery setup for camping in a camper or caravan. There it makes real sense.

          • humanitarian solar

            That sounds fantastic Hermann. Giles also has an east west setup and the advantage of this is PV is cheap, you’ve got lots of it up there, compared to someone who only has half their roof covered in panels. Additionally, the bell curves your looking at should be complimentary, as one will potentially fill a battery quickly after sunrise and the other will ensure a battery will go into sunset filled up. This means you have a broad solar input going in throughout the entire day, which is as good as it gets. With this issue of your arrays only producing 300kWh in June, that’s still a substantial 10kWh/day. I notice you think this is small though if your feeling challenged living frugally on 10kWh, its merely an opportunity to practice your altruism towards the environment. It’s a great to practice, stripping back our lifestyle and living simply. I love it. It’s tremendous clarifying our values.

          • trackdaze

            You can pick up 2kw generators cheap too seems the campers are selling them and getting solar and battery too.

          • humanitarian solar

            Exactly, that was how I only just sidestepped the grid-tie inverter issue. I spotted it because I had installed a 180W solar panel, regulator and 100Ah battery in a camper, to power the fridge and phones. Then got the 200W battery inverter to power the computer because I couldn’t find a suitable DC to DC converter. The house is wired pretty much the same.

          • Alastair Leith

            You do realise by saying windmill all the time you look like a total ignoramus don’t you? Not a bushel of grain in sight inside wind turbines you know.

        • Hermann

          But no matter who we twist and turn it, massive government interference of socialist style yielding to the great green fantasy has led the the massive problems in SA, whether you believe it or not. One day you will!

          As I have state here many times, the very idea of introducing 40% of intermittancy (wind mills and solar) at the cost of inertia (Traditional generators) into a power grid borders on reckless irresponsibility! The government in SA should not be given a second chance and if that was a private corporation they would have been given the sack long ago before it even got that far!

    • Darren

      Thats not exactly fair, or right. They have the same problem with intermittancy which is why they are converting coal mines, and other storage solution

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-17/german-coal-mine-to-be-reborn-as-giant-pumped-hydropower-battery

      • Hermann

        Hydro storage. Not battery storage that is planed to last for one hour only which might give enough time to find the candles. This here is something completely different. The coal mine might well be exhausted soon and they’re putting it to good use. Hydro power makes sense to me and by the looks of it the wind power is used to fill the dam and then when needed it is used to power conventional generators. This is, in my books, the proper use of wind power. Similar technologies have been in use for many decades where during the night when power is less in demand, the excess is used to fill a dam which is used during the day to generate power. A generator can also act as motor if you feed power to it.

        I’m in no way against wind or solar power, but have a serious problem when it becomes an ideologically driven madness as in SA!

        And also, Uniper is building a new coal fired power station in Datteln

        http://www.power-technology.com/projects/datteln-4-coal-fired-power-plant/

    • Alastair Leith

      No Germany is not busy building coal-fired power stations to replace wind.

      The new coal plants being built today were planned many years ago and are cleaner and more functional (ramp rates) than the greater capacity of older plants being retired.

      Green plants represent those prevented since 2007;
      blue, those probably abandoned;
      yellow, those still planned;
      orange, those under construction; and
      red, those that went online between 2012 and 2015.

      https://energytransition.org/2015/10/the-demise-of-coal-in-germany-and-globally/

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b15bbfd3b36876e3ce7095bb008edf4f758186adb317559629bf8e6d903992e1.png

  • Ian

    By Jove, Giles, you don’t mean it’s a conspiracy. These manipulations of energy policies, and practices seem too dastardly to believe . I wish we had more commentators like Hermann here who could possibly challenge your position so that you could verify what you’re saying -it really seems fantastical this story of the outlandish actions by energy companies and politicians. (No-way, you’re Sh-ting us, is all this really true?)

  • humanitarian solar

    On the AEMC appearing to favour traditional synchronous technologies to cure grid instability, I wrote this comment elsewhere this morning:

    An article on the ABC reckons the AEMC wants to increase inertia with strategies like synchronous condensers. It amazes me how we’re constantly doing downstream approaches of fixing the problems created from fossil fuel generators. The only reason we need strategies like synchronous condensers, is the fossil fuel generators aren’t fast enough to keep up with changes in the load. Batteries respond to fast changing loads. We know this from solar/storage on our properties. So why are we planning for synchronous condensers, when their main purpose has been “reactively” compensating for fossil fuel generators which are being retired anyway, when batteries are the way of the future and have multiple value streams???

    This is all a synchronous condenser does: “a synchronous condenser naturally supplies more reactive power to a low voltage and absorbs more reactive power from a high voltage” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronous_condenser

    Pervasive distributed storage is fast response and isn’t going to have these problems. Batteries are extremely fast in milliseconds and my understanding is hydro is seconds to minutes. So how does a future grid have a problem dealing with a rapidly changing load?

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-24/aemc-says-australias-power-system-weakened-by-wind-solar/8381356

    • Chris Fraser

      Yes, all ‘conventional’ generators need a capacitor of stored energy to connect to the grid.

  • humanitarian solar

    We keep getting dragged backwards into dealing with bodgy arguments with old engineers and fossil fuel interests. We need successful examples of complete renewable systems, whether they be microgrids or a system actually on an island, to demonstrate the technology works and can be cost effective in 2017. I think that’s what’s never been done… Even a relatively small scale case study is evidence of stability and reliability.

    • Hermann

      Unfortunately SA is not a good example for that. In fact I’m afraid it might have set back the idea quite a bit. Trust me, that for all intent and purposes failed experiment is being watched all over the world! And lessons will be learned!

      • humanitarian solar

        I’m fairly certain from talking with you before, you’re an engineer who worked in the grid. You have to use your knowledge to come up with a valid critique of why renewable energy doesn’t work.

  • Ian

    Some have said the FF incumbents will get their Kodak moment, but I am not so sure reading this article, there are many battles to be fought before renewables can have it’s day. We are more likely to see fossil fuels gradually snuffed out like the tobacco habit. – only after a lot of hard work. The natural movement by the public to install solar panels and storage may not be enough to rid ourselves of this scourge with it’s powerful vested interests. Even the frigging snowy 2 is a thinly -failed Carbon energy laundering system, designed not to increase renewables but maintain coal and falsely attribute the stored energy output to renewables.

    How funny. South Australia’s labor wants to champion renewables by building a standby gas generator and coal loving coalition wants to save coal by building a pumped hydro plant!

    • Alastair Leith

      As I’m always reminding renewables skeptics who say if renewables are cheaper why haven’t they taken over yet, this isn’t a level playing field. The only place the renewables market in Australia is like high street market for HDTVs or smart phones is in the rooftopPV sector where there are constraints but you do have consumer purchasing with large volumes of individual transactions. The constraints in getting a wind or solar farm online are so much more vast than FiTs, and other capacity limits on rooftop solar for e.g. >100kW PV in WA requires an *energy retail* licence if you dont mind. Wind and solar farm developers are in direct competition with the big three gentailers’ obvious intentions in the market and yet they need to get a PPA with a gentailer in absence of Government PPA reverse auction like those held by ACT and now those Victoria will hold. Soon hopefully they’ll be able to go merchant on price, but so much regulatory red tape blocking a level playing field even then.

      That makes state RETs even more important in breaking the back of this cabal of energy gentailers who not only put “profits before people”, they’re putting profits because the entirety of life on Earth. They deserve whatever is coming to them by way of nationalising or anti-trust actions.

  • humanitarian solar

    It has become clear from the discussion that there’s people on this website with a negative perception of renewable energy, because they have intermittent renewable energy systems in their own home.

    • Ian

      HS, what do you mean . Your comment is intriguing. The natural assumption is that people with solar installed would do so 1. to save money 2. to concretise their support for renewables energy transformation. The problem up to now has been the type of solar system on offer. These systems are designed to be grid-tied and reliant on the grid for all the storage and electricity management functions. Decent-sized batteries are changing this, and the next phase in consumer behaviour will be solar with batteries and a grid-tie only for export and for long-term storage needs. If and when prices of batteries drop by an order of magnitude, people will buy EV and have loads of storage and may not bother with access to the grid. The grid may then become an expensive luxury that only the subsidised can afford.

      • humanitarian solar

        I agree entirely. Hermann has a grid-tie inverter and has been speaking of intermittency and thinks the whole worldwide renewables project is a “failed experiment”. He longs for the “good old days” of fossil fuel generators with cheap power, that he’s much more comfortable with and trained in. He doesn’t seem entirely happy with his 4kW system as it only produces 10kWh/day in June and has purchased a generator for backup, even though he sees his particular part of the grid is “quite stable”.
        What this says to me, is perhaps we will all be feeling much better about renewable energy after 2017 in what appears to be a year of the battery, after many of us will have taken the plunge into battery storage, overcoming the intermittency of that discouraging grid-tie inverter.

        • solarguy

          10KWh a day is pretty low, what direction are his panels facing?
          Is he only looking at what he exports? He should be producing a minimum average of 16kwh in winter.

          • humanitarian solar

            He said he has an east and west array, so I think E and W slips off the side of the solar harvest bell curve a bit. I think NE and NW is pretty close to N for harvest but E and W is stretching it a bit. Although an E and W array is good from the point of view of having double the roof to put panels on. Like so many, I bet he didn’t bother to max out each roof, so there’s probably scope to remedy his dissatisfaction if he wanted to as panels are the cheapest part of the system. Would fill a battery nicely in the morning and make sure it goes into the evening with the battery full. So I think it comes down to whether people want it to work well.

          • solarguy

            His panels should be equal number and wattage, east and west, if not there will be production problems.
            If he has a single tracking inverter and the panels are equal he should only lose 5%, compared to an all north array in winter. If he has a dual tracker a bit more.
            Summer should be no difference, if not a gain, if the roof pitch is say 22.5 degrees.

          • humanitarian solar

            This diagram I posted isn’t very clear to me though I think I’m reading it as 20 degree tilt and E or W = 85% harvest compared to N?

          • solarguy

            From my practical experience of my 2 arrays which are 3kw west and 6.3kw north, I can tell you this from historical records I have taken every day for years.

            West array has a tilt angle of 15 degrees and on an excellent cloudless day at the winter solstice, will produce 28% less than a north facing array. Summer solstice actually produces slightly more with the same sort of day.

            Diagrams can be confusing, but practical experience is spot on.
            If you mate has unequal number of panels, east and west or different wattages and doesn’t have a dual tracking inverter, bingo there is the problem. Having said that, if they are unequal and he does have a dual tracker, that through things out, e.g. 1.5kw east array and 2.5kw west.

            Hope this helps.

          • humanitarian solar

            I agree it’s a negligible loss. Hermann posting on this article, an ex-grid engineer, thought the solar experiment hadn’t worked for him and then began being dismissive of the world using renewable energy. There’s allot of technical stumbling blocks and the same share of personal problems. Your W array sounds like a perfect compliment to get the battery full going into the evening. I’m looking forward to putting up a NW array. Yes, I would always use a dedicated MPPT for each array though I suppose allot of the newspaper advertised mass market “deals” came out with one size fits all grid-tie inverters.
            The issue here I reckon, is like you have said before, there’s part of the community who aren’t really into it and only did because of generous FIT’s to kick start it. They were always wanting something for nothing, so these days we all only get out of it what we put into it. Thanks for the info.

          • humanitarian solar
    • Alastair Leith

      Variable is the correct term to use for solar and wind. Intermittent suggests bad phone reception or a transmission line on the blink. Solar and wind are very predictable over the bidding period of 5 minutes and infact for a day ahead in more general terms.

      • humanitarian solar

        I acknowledge what your say Alastair and I’m aware the industry wish to use the more accurate word variable when referring to wind and solar harvest however i consciously chose the word intermittent to refer to the grid-tie inverter, to raise awareness of how people with this kind of hardware can project their negativity about unreliable systems onto the grid. And “projection” is another technical term. I’ve always disliked grid-tie inverters and will likely continue the usage intermittent because they function intermittently depending upon sensing AC on the grid. Still hold objections?

        • Ian

          You could say the initial solar systems completely dependent on the grid for all storage and management functions were parasitic on the grid. They have served their function to reduce people’s costs and to increase the uptake of solar. This was initially very useful to the grid in terms of mitigating the midday peak, and in this country , still serve this purpose well, and there is space in the energy consumption profile for a lot more solar to flatten out the daytime peak without compromising the slow but steady baseload coal. But the point is being reached where the grid sees any further solar as a PITA as it spoils their energy monopoly, and so the time has come for household solar to move on and install storage in the form of batteries. Those with enough storage to time-shift their energy production to nighttime – day to day cycling – still need the grid for their long term storage needs, and this use of the grid as a standby power supply must be very erksome for the network. You will hear complaints from them such as ‘ solar households are not paying their fair share of network costs’ or ‘ We need to increase the network access fee’

          Businesses need customers, and if the business environment changes there is no good alienating your customers further by bullying them. The utilities need to find some other way to stay relevant. They have some high-paid CEO’s , so let them sort out their new and changing business model, but bullying and coercing is not acceptable.

          • humanitarian solar

            I agree and the grid-tie inverter was a step backward from the inverter/charger which has been manufactured since the 1970″s. The grid-tie inverter introduced solar power to a mainstream audience though also made sure they remained captive to the grid. I don’t want to get into a conspiracy theory, although this path channel money into a grid-centric inverter, instead of technology that could have created more community empowerment and resilience. The inverter/charger was already so intelligent, it could act as a local energy management computer, being programmed for managing it’s battery, solar, wind turbines, generators and the grid. It was never necessary to have a huge battery, at a time in history that batteries were still comparatively expensive. Though the inverter/charger gave to households their independence to stand alone and hence safety and security in floods, winds and fires. The inverter/charger was used in the off-grid and hybrid systems of many historic projects in developing countries, such as hospitals, light houses and the base camp of Mt Everest. When people speak of the inverter, it is actually an inverter/charger because the inverter goes from DC to AC and the charger goes from AC to DC – which is necessary for charging the battery from the grid in winter or maintenance charges of the battery. There’s some pictures of interesting installs in this brochure.
            https://www.victronenergy.com/upload/documents/Brochure-Off-Grid,-back-up-and-island-systems-EN_web.pdf

  • Again and again these articles highlight that corrupt government and incumbent industry players hold back progressive reform that will benefit people. We have to find a better way to govern and nullify the influence of corruption in government and industry. What can cause corruption? Greed. Lack of transparency and accountability. It goes back to fundamentals like morality. How to provide more accountable, transparent governance? Governance through open, digital democracy would be a better way, other than everyone becoming enlightened beings (which is a tall order in this world where everyone is a bit crazy). Democracy.Earth is one platform that can provide that. Of course, it will have problems, like developers still having control over how it operates, however being open source can help with accountability.

    • Alastair Leith

      Federal ICAC and ban on large donations to political parties from corporations, businesses, unions and individuals would be a good place to start. The fish rots from the head someone once said.

    • humanitarian solar

      In your campaign you focus on technologies based upon local energy trading while highlighting communities don’t have access to fair networks for distribution. In this way, the approach is stuck with a conundrum. There’s no consumer and community ability to begin local trading to build momentum, and you say centralised approaches are the root cause of issues, and yet the distribution system remains central. So you then revert to lobbying the same centralised interests you assert are corrupt. This appears a contradiction. I tend to advocate for local community based approaches, including the installation of solar storage at any level of small or medium scale application it can be done. To have any real power, a strategy needs to have a way to begin to get a new paradigm moving. To me that’s people beginning with the most empowering system configuration they can and being open to sharing in any number of community based contexts, including local government, community based organisations, community gardens, charging stations, public utilities like water and sewerage, all the different applications we need.

  • Alan S

    I you can follow Abbott’s logic, good luck. Like to have a go at understanding Trump?